Television preview RECOMMENDED VIEWING THIS WEEKEND

FDR Sat 8.05pm BBC2 Court TV Sat 11.30pm BBC2 Princess to Queen Sun 4.10pm BBC1 Happy Birthday Ma'am Sun 6pm ITV A History of British Art Sun 7.30pm BBC2 Encounters Sun 8pmC4

Royalty - like sitcoms and news analysis - is just one of those things that the BBC do better than ITV. For instance, Sunday marks the Queen's 70th birthday, and like a parvenu at Buck House, ITV have come over all grovelly and unctuous with Happy Birthday Ma'am (Sun ITV). This unfocused tombola of a royal documentary is presented by Trevor McDonald, OBE. One half expects it to wrap with a funny story about a cat stuck up a tree. Instead we get Sir Cliff Richard.

Meanwhile, that experienced old courtier the BBC has produced the respectful and gently moving Princess to Queen (Sun BBC1). This benefits from the voice-over of Ludovic Kennedy - his words always seem to catch on his throat - and from being sharply focused on Ma'am's upbringing and young adulthood. Thus both those troublesome children are neatly erased, and we are reminded of the human being that went into making the monarch. There's plenty of unfamiliar footage, including HM beamingly in lurve with a Greek sailor. Apparently the future Queen decided Philip was The One after witnessing him perform in the gymnasium of the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. She was 13 at the time.

Maybe there's something to be said for marrying your cousin. Franklin D. Roosevelt did. In the particular case of this quietly ambitious young man, it must have helped that the orphaned Eleanor Roosevelt was the favourite niece of the then President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt that "steam train in trousers", as he was memorably described. All this courtesy of FDR (Sat BBC2), a handsome new four-part documentary series about the man who was to be elected President four times.

I had noticed that our chief art critic, Andrew Graham-Dixon, hasn't been hanging round the Independent office of late, and now I know why. He's been hanging round art galleries, museums and country churches making the sterling A History of British Art (Sun BBC2). Like Kenneth Clark, Graham-Dixon exercises a whole wardrobe full of suits - and in the clarity of his vision and the coherent way he meshes the whole island story together, he's going to give the old boy a run for his Monet.

The story of British art really begins at the Reformation - because reformationists smashed every piece of religious decoration (which was the art of the Middle Ages) they could take their hammers to. If you think Damien Hirst is an iconoclast, then you don't know the proper meaning of the word.

Watched non-stop, a 24-hour cable station showing nothing but legal trials would do strange things to the mind. People wouldn't be able to ask you the time of day, for example, without you huddling in a conference with your lawyer. But condensed into weekly chunks, Court TV (Sat BBC2) is fascinating viewing, throwing up all sorts of issues which are usually obscured in our somewhat tabloid perspective on crime and punishment. This week, former Manson "family" member Patricia Krenwinkel comes up before the parole board. Objecting to parole is Sharon Tate's younger sister, Patricia. Equally gripping is Encounters (C4 Sun), which documents the medical response to last year's Ebola virus outbreak in Zaire, the deadliest bug known to man. And I thought The Shane Richie Experience had that honour.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Travel
travelWhy Japan's love hotels are thriving through an economic downturn
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

    Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

    Email Designer

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Psychology Teacher

    £110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

    Food Technology Teacher

    £85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week